Excuse the drama of the headline.
Let us acknowledge from the start that the only person truly responsible for killing 50 people in two mosques in New Zealand is the killer himself.
But what ultimately motivates some like the shooter, Brenton Tarrant, or those like him — which we are told are many waiting in the wings — to open fire on Muslims praying in mosques in the West?
Let us step back for a moment and consider the political climate in the West for the last number of years.
While it could be that someone like Tarrant was too far gone to engage in a political process, we must ask, what is the state of that political process? Specifically, how does a climate where the political process is shut down breed attacks such as the one in New Zealand?
Since 9/11, when we were told by president Bush that Islam was a religion a peace, there has been a growing trend which has now reached epic proportions to shut down any discussion of the connection between the violent jihad, Islam and Muslims.
Today, the buzz word Islamophobia – coined by Islamists in the ‘90s to stifle any criticism of Islamist ideology — is used like a cudgel by “progressive” Westerners to beat down not just any discussion of this issue but virtually any objection to any behavior by any Muslim.
That same cudgel is what prompted Britain’s politicians and its police force to sacrifice thousands of young English girls to Pakistani rape gangs over a period of decades. They were afraid if they called out this despicable phenomenon, they would be called racists.
In Europe, those who actually had the courage to talk about Islamism’s fascist ideology were either killed – as was the staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo – or stifled through the threat of arrest, fines and jail.
(Even those who stood in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo refused to republish the magazine’s controversial cartoons about Islam and most ended up condemning the magazine for doing so.)
We no longer blink when we hear of Christians street preachers thrown in jail for speech considered to be “challenging Muslims” or the conviction of, for example, an Austrian housewife who held a series of private talks about the dangers of radical Islam. (Ironically, many of her “objectionable” statements were actually quotes from the Quran and other Islamic texts.)
Britain’s Home Office just turned down a request for asylum from an Iranian who converted to Christianity (a crime he will surely pay dearly for in his native country) on the grounds that his claim that Christianity (versus Islam) is a peaceful religion is not true.
In the U.S., through the Islamophobia narrative, Islamists have availed themselves of their protected “victim” status (granted to them by “progressives”) to push their agenda both politically and ideologically.
At the same time, anyone who challenges this narrative is called a racist. Witness the recent backlash against those calling out newly-elected Congresswoman Ilhan Omar for her vile spewing of classic anti-Semitic tropes. Ignoring her anti-Semitism, those that called her out were themselves labelled Islamophobes (and then held responsible for the New Zealand massacre).
New Zealand itself has taken the extreme measure of scrubbing any mention of the attacker’s name in the media, his manifesto and blocking access to any sites where the video he made of the attack was uploaded. Social media platforms followed suit, erasing his presence and those of his followers.
But as journalist Seth J. Frantzman points out:
Imagine if this was the approach to other terrible crimes. Imagine if we just banned all images of the Holocaust and mention of Hitler. Would that make Nazism go away, or would it be tantamount to denying the Holocaust?
Why stop there? Let’s ban all images of terrorism and mentions of terrorist leaders like Osama bin Laden or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. There’s something strange about this strategy that is reminiscent of Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter, “He who must not be named.” Did not naming that character make him disappear, even in fiction?
Frantzman continues, commenting: “There is no evidence that by simply not naming terrorist perpetrators, such as Timothy McVeigh, or by not showing any footage from their attacks, we will reduce terrorism or help memorialize their victims.”
He rightly notes, “No one in the US since then has taken after McVeigh, and no one, has carried out such another terrible attack. We saw the footage, we know the name and we were horrified by it.”
Does that help us learn from these crimes? Do we learn from things by erasing every piece of information about them? Doesn’t an open society tend to confront extremism better because it knows more about it, more about the warning signs, the signposts that lead to it?”
Scrubbing the record or making talking about the problem of Islamist ideology politically impossible plays into hands of white supremacists like Tarrant. It gives them a reason to give up on the political process and look for an alternative way to reach their goal.
And what is that goal?
We are foolish if we believe the goal of Tarrant and others like him is to kill as many Muslims as possible. Attacks like this are merely the stepping stone Tarrant and other extremists perceive as necessary to spark an all-out war between Muslims and non-Muslims.
With a political process that they perceive as failed, they view violence as their only alternative. Although they understand that lives will be lost on “their” side, nothing will make them happier than a retaliatory attack by a jihadi group on non-Muslims in the West.
Rather than shut down the conversation, all issues that have to do with Muslim immigration to the West – rape gangs, honor violence, increased crime, demands of religious accommodation, women’s rights, Islamist ideology, lack of integration and terrorism – have to be put on the table and up for discussion.
It is only then that we will be able to create a society that is truly committed to human rights, democracy, free speech and equality under the law.